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06-09-2011, 06:50 PM   #1
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Why isn't Pentax more popular?

Pentax make excellent DSLR's and great primes, there's also high quality zooms available.
So why is Pentax as a DSLR brand not more popular and more widely used?

The only reason that I can think of is that there is no full frame body available.
Sure there's a reasonably priced medium format but not many people would prefer that over a FF DSLR IMO.

When I was researching DSLR's last year it seemed that there were no immediate plans for Pentax to produce a FF DSLR, has anything changed?

Cheers

06-09-2011, 06:52 PM   #2
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Pentax doesn't market as much as Canon or Nikon
06-09-2011, 07:03 PM - 1 Like   #3
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It's a secret. But Pentax users have MOJO.
06-09-2011, 07:20 PM   #4
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Most people buy (and sell) brand names they know and see. Pentax's lack of marketing in the US results in no brand-recognition.

06-09-2011, 07:31 PM - 1 Like   #5
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I really don't mind having to buy my Pentax gear on the internet. Not at all. The source of information is right here, and places like B&H have excellent service and a great return policy.

I switched from Nikon about three years ago, and I'll buy Pentax for as long as they make cameras.
06-09-2011, 07:46 PM   #6
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When Hoya purchased Pentax, there were dire predictions of what might happen. However, Hoya management had a good effect on Pentax. They encouraged Pentax staff to introduce more products and on a more disciplined schedule. In any case, the latest result of their ownership is the K5, an outstanding product. Also, there are several features of the K7 that Nikon apparently paid attention to when designing the D7000, e.g. the small form factor, the quieter shutter, backward compatibility with older lenses, etc. When you get a large company like Nikon paying attention to Pentax, one knows that Pentax is on the right track.
06-09-2011, 07:47 PM   #7
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Why does that matter?

QuoteOriginally posted by elbeasto Quote
Pentax make excellent DSLR's and great primes, there's also high quality zooms available.
So why is Pentax as a DSLR brand not more popular and more widely used?

The only reason that I can think of is that there is no full frame body available.
Sure there's a reasonably priced medium format but not many people would prefer that over a FF DSLR IMO.

When I was researching DSLR's last year it seemed that there were no immediate plans for Pentax to produce a FF DSLR, has anything changed?

Cheers
Why does that matter? My hunch is that buying things, giving your money aka power to someone is a very intimate transaction and we want to know our newly purchased thing is faithful, deserving of our trust and that we haven't been had by some unreliable, uncaring Jezebel of a brand. We want to know we were smart to buy that one. Salesmen and Carnival Barkers and Advertising folk understand this. The reality of a thing is irrelevant, perception is everything. One of the benefits of age is the emotional divorce from such nonsense. I shoot DNGs and have had the same raw converter for a K10, K20 and K5. Weather resistant and affordable for multiple bodies. When I attend exhibits with close friends, I've yet to see any difference in prints except for the passion and skill of the photographer. Had I chosen another brand initially, it wouldn't make any difference to my work. Its the Ford, Chevy, Dodge argument. Okay Ford, Chevy, Fiat.
06-09-2011, 07:59 PM   #8
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It really has nothing to do with the lack of FF. Pentax has an excellent system, with more bang for the buck than any of the other brands.

But with a nearly non-existent marketing here in the U.S. it is unlikely their market share will ever grow here.

06-09-2011, 08:33 PM - 1 Like   #9
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Some people may find this hard to believe, but there was a time when Pentax outsold Nikon and Canon, combined. Back in the sixties, the Spotmatic was the most popular 35mm camera made.

Somewhere along the way, Pentax management became complacent. They were late to come to the autofocus party. They made a feeble attempt with the ME-F and its special lens in the early eighties, but it wasn't successful. They didn't try again until about 1989, with the SF1. By then others were more advanced in AF.

Pentax never did come up with any kind of shake reduction or image stabilization for their film cameras, as did Nikon and Canon. Even their first dslrs lacked this feature.

Pentax was, again, very late coming to the digital revolution. The *istD had a name that no one could pronounce (still can't), six megapixels and a very high price.

Somewhere in all that, Pentax management seemed to develop the attitude of "Marketing? We don't need no steeenking marketing!", while Canon and Nikon were spending huge sums on TV advertising campaigns.

I think that there are other factors, as well. N and C are known to pay "spiffs" or commissions directly to store salespersons, over and above what the store owner pays them. Pentax doesn't do this.

When the Ritz Camera store chain went bankrupt a couple of years ago, it was revealed that Ritz owed Nikon $28M and Canon $18M. They owed Pentax $0. This was because Pentax would not (still doesn't AFAIK), provide trade credit. IOW, when the store orders a Pentax product and receives it, they must immediately pay for it. N and C don't expect payment until the unit is sold to the customer. For small stores, that's a HUGE advantage for the big two.

It also came out, as Ritz emerged from chapter 11 bankruptcy, that Nikon had provided financing for the founder (Michael?) Ritz, to buy many of the stores from the bankruptcy court. Guess whose cameras are featured at Ritz stores. Hint, it ain't Pentax. Someone claimed that the $28M was more than Nikon USA's annual profit and they apparently figured that this was the only way they could ever hope to see that money.

In many parts of the country, there are no other brick and mortar camera stores.

Once the momentum got going for the big two, the big box stores, like Best Buy, Walmart and Target, went with the cameras that move quickly. That means C and N, not P.

I've also heard rumors that Pentax demands a $100,000 annual committment from a store. Small stores can't or won't agree to that, so they don't carry Pentax.

Pentax' presence in stores is so bad that, in Denver (Pentax USA is located in Golden, a suburb), there is no place that a customer can go to actually hold a Pentax camera before purchasing. From all reports, there is not a single store in the Denver area that stocks Pentax.

Sometimes, I wonder if Pentax isn't TRYING to put themselves out of business.
06-09-2011, 11:05 PM   #10
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the general gist of it is that Pentax doesn't put enough into marketing, I would definitely agree with that.

napawino, my eye glasses have Pentax lenses, unfortunately I have no Mojo.
Excellent answer all the same.

Why does it matter? I suppose it doesn't really but I was curious & thought I'd ask others opinions.
It does affect the used market though.
Take Canon for example, see how much easier it is to buy used Canon gear on eBay compared to even Nikon let alone Pentax.

noblepa, while reading your post I felt like Pentax was the company with integrity, (if such a thing is possible) but after reading that they expect $100K commitment from shops, I agree, are they trying to shoot themselves in the foot here?

Despite all the marketing and 'non-marketing' strategies, I still find it really difficult to decide on a brand/system to go with.
I suppose at the end of the day it doesn't matter as most DSLR's in their respective price brackets are much of a muchness.

06-10-2011, 12:15 AM - 1 Like   #11
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Here in Holland, Nikon has started a big advertising campaign. Their (very irritating) commercial is on about every half hour or so... Which explains why certain, easily influenced people, think Nikon is THE brand to get. And which explains to me, why their products are so darn expensive. Nikon has quality products, and you pay for that, but all the marketing is in their prices also.

Anyway, I like Pentax being a kind of *exclusive* brand.
06-10-2011, 12:34 AM   #12
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One of the life rules I subscribe to is that if a product has to be advertised then it must be inferior and I do not purchase.

Superior products are generally made in limited quantities by craftspeople who care about the performance, longevity, and support and place a premium on the good name and standing of their product.

Word of mouth and satisfied owners repeat purchases generally suffice to keep these companies healthy and ensure their limited production is eagerly acquired.

The 80/20 marketing rule would say that it costs 80% more to capture 20% more customers but only 20% more to retain 80% of customers.

If you were Pentax would you spend up large chasing Canikon users or support your existing loyal users...?

I have Spotties,ES2,MG,MX,ME Super,K200D and a horde of Pentax brand accessories.
I have never felt that Pentax have made an inferior product ever.
Everthing I own and use performs reliably and faultlessly and has never given me pause to consider other brands. (except for lack of Pentax tethering support on the k200D but that's cool as I have 4X3rd Party apps that do this )

Backwards compatability and the extended life and use of existing lenses is priceless and would be my number 2 reason to continue supporting Pentax.

Pentax may not hype themselves chasing the almighty $ and that's fine by me.
Forget the width and feel the quality.
06-10-2011, 04:43 AM   #13
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I've had a Pentax Program A for more than 20 years now, and have just purchased a K-7. I had many alternatives in the price range but decided that I really appreciate the quality of Pentax cameras, with the bonus that all my existing lenses will be compatible. I'm especially pleased that the Tamron 28-200 AF lens I bought about 10 years ago will finally be able to be used in AF mode. Thankyou Pentax for genuine backwards-compatibility.
Pentax seems to be a manufacturer continually in the shadows of the big two. They aren't the brand that WOW, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman and his associates sell as package deals but they are obviously still selling profitably enough to supply the more discerning customer, perhaps? Long live Pentax.
06-10-2011, 08:09 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by elbeasto Quote
noblepa, while reading your post I felt like Pentax was the company with integrity, (if such a thing is possible) but after reading that they expect $100K commitment from shops, I agree, are they trying to shoot themselves in the foot here?
Without knowing all the details, I suspect the opposite is true: by allowing too many mom&pop shops to carry their gear, most on consignment, they probably lost their shirts as most of those shops folded. And the collapse of Ritz a couple of years ago shows that it isn't just mom&pop shops that can potentially drag you down. Canon & Nikon may be big enough to survive those sorts of losses, but they probably hurt Pentax correspondingly more.

Anyhow, again, none of us know the whole story here, but I would submit this: Pentax knows the situation far more than you or I, and I see no reason to assume they are complete idiots.

QuoteQuote:
I suppose at the end of the day it doesn't matter as most DSLR's in their respective price brackets are much of a muchness.
True enough. Although I'd say that's particular true comparing Canon to Nikon, who offer extremely similar feature sets and lens lineups. It's when you consider Pentax, Sony, or Olympus that you have some real decisions to make, based on more significant differences in overall philosophy. Body stabilization versus lens, a lens lineup that is weighed toward zooms versus primes, etc.
06-10-2011, 08:36 AM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by noblepa Quote
Some people may find this hard to believe, but there was a time when Pentax outsold Nikon and Canon, combined. Back in the sixties, the Spotmatic was the most popular 35mm camera made.

Somewhere along the way, Pentax management became complacent. They were late to come to the autofocus party. They made a feeble attempt with the ME-F and its special lens in the early eighties, but it wasn't successful. They didn't try again until about 1989, with the SF1. By then others were more advanced in AF.
You're a bit off in your timeline. The SF1 was introduced in 1987, the same year Canon introduced the EOS. The SF1 also had something none of the other SLR's had that year, a pop-up flash. And never mind the fact that Minolta was only able to introduce the Maxxum because they stole the AF system from Honeywell.

The camera that really dragged down Pentax was the LX. When it was introduced in 1980 it was a F2 killer, but Nikon introduced the F3 and Pentax didn't do anything.

It also took Pentax 6 years to match the Canon A-1.
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